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‘Matthew Turner’ Meets ‘C.A. Thayer’ at Haulout

If you had been sailing or motoring on the Oakland Estuary during the past few weeks, you might have imagined you were seeing an apparition — not just one 19th-century tall ship in dry dock, but two. Your eyes were not playing tricks on you. Hauled out at Alameda’s Bay Ship and Yacht were none other than the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park’s 1895, 219-ft schooner C.A. Thayer, and Call of the Sea’s 132-ft tall ship Matthew Turner. It would have been easy to imagine the same scene in the late 1800s. But this is not the 1800s, it’s 2020. Both ships are 19th-century designs, but built 125 years apart.

CA Thayer and Matthew Turner bowsprits
A touching scene. New kid on the block Matthew Turner nestled under ‘the old man,’ C.A. Thayer’s bowsprit. It was almost like a parent looking down on its child.
© 2020 John Skoriak

C.A. Thayer was in dry dock for a million-dollar-plus refit, including a new deck house forward, a chain locker, some plank and structural work, and paint throughout. Matthew Turner was in for a basic haulout and Coast Guard inspection.

CA Thayer and Matthew Turner share dry dock space
Two of the Bay Area’s majestic tall ships shared dock space for a time. Perhaps the ‘old man’ was able to impart some wisdom to the ‘new kid’ on the Bay.
© 2020 John Skoriak

Most Latitude readers are familiar with Matthew Turner, launched April 1, 2017, in Sausalito after four years of construction by an ‘army’ of mostly volunteers. Following the launch were three years of work fitting out the mast, spars, rigging, sails, interior, electrical, plumbing and safety equipment, and several Coast Guard tests, including a stability test. Despite delays due to the pandemic, it was three years almost to the day after the launch that the tall ship passed her final USCG crew-overboard drill in April and received the coveted COI — US Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection. Following the COI were six months of sea trials, and limited-passenger trips to comply with social-distancing and COVID-19 protocols.

Due to the pandemic, a planned winter voyage to Mexico had to be postponed. But before the winter layup, it was time for a haulout, and also the first dry-dock inspection since Matthew Turner got its Certificate of Inspection. The ship’s last haulout was in May 2019, but judging by the condition of its bottom, planks, rudder and paint, one would never have known. The planks and seams were still tight, fair and smooth, there were no leaks, and the hull was found to be in excellent shape. A thorough inspection of the bottom could only find two almost inconsequential items — a small spot the size of a quarter where a few teredo worms had had a ‘snack’, and a similar-size spot at the bottom of the rudder where a small fiberglass seam had opened. Both were noted, readily treated, and repaired.

Matthew Turner bing inspected
This is only the second time Matthew Turner has been hauled out since her launch in April 2017.
© 2020 John Skoriak

Examining a traditional wooden ship like this is good practice for the local Coast Guard inspectors. An inspected passenger-carrying sailing vessel like Matthew Turner is a rarity these days, especially on San Francisco Bay. The Coast Guard inspectors actually welcome the opportunity to come out and examine the vessel. As Matthew Turner project director Alan Olson pointed out, “They learn a lot on Matthew Turner.

Matthew Turner haul out crew in front of ship
Behind the masks, left to right: Charley Walther was a longtime volunteer on the Matthew Turner‘s construction and was instrumental in helping with systems and technical details, especially as they relate to USCG inspections and compliance; captain of the ship Adrian McCullough; Alan Olson has overseen the project all the way through, from its inception over seven years ago to the vessel’s COI in 2020.
© 2020 John Skoriak

After the brief but thorough inspections were complete, and all systems inside and out checked by the Coast Guard inspectors, the yard crew set about to work on the sanding, prepping and painting. Dry-dock protocol called for the bottom prep and paint to be done by the shipyard, and judging by the results at launch last Friday, the capable crew from Bay Ship and Yacht did themselves, and Matthew Turner, proud.

Matthew Turner goes back in the water
A freshly painted bottom will keep the ship warm while she waits out the winter – and COVID restrictions.
© 2020 John Skoriak


  1. Steven Woodside 4 years ago

    Thank you, Captain Skoriak, for writing this. You have been a longtime supporter of Call of the Sea and a steadfast volunteer during its construction. Our educational tall ship made it in and out of drydock before the current Covid-19 lockdown and is now back at the Bay Model/Army Corps of Engineers Pier in Sausalito, hunkering down during this darkening pandemic, and looking ahead to a brighter Spring.

  2. Memo Gidley 4 years ago

    Great report on a great vessel!

  3. Vince Casalaina 4 years ago

    I’m glad to see the Thayer getting closer to being totally ready to take on another hundred years. I was at the Ribs to Ribs benefit and will never forget the up close look at how she was put together.

  4. Harald Oyen 3 years ago

    Walk into Aquatic Park, San Francisco, from the west side along the beach walk. You will see the most gorgeous lines of a classic Schooner. I mean, “most beautiful.” The Turner has a different look in or out of the water. Sorry, but no comparison.

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